Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we are working to tackle the country’s largest outbreaks of measles and Ebola to date, while continuing to address its many other health needs. In 2019, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams worked in 21 of DRC’s 26 provinces, providing a wide range of services including general and specialist healthcare, nutrition, vaccinations, surgery, paediatric care, support for victims of sexual violence, as well as treatment and prevention activities for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), measles, cholera and Ebola.
The world’s largest measles epidemic
The measles outbreak, the largest recorded, has ravaged DRC since mid-2018 and was declared a national epidemic by the Congolese government in June 2019. According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, more than 310,000 people contracted measles and over 6,000 died from the disease in DRC. MSF’s response included support for local surveillance activities, mass vaccination campaigns and treatment for complicated cases in 16 provinces: North and South Kivu, Bas-Uélé, Kasai, Kasai Central, Kwilu, Mai-Ndombe, South Ubangi, Tshopo, Tshuapa, Ituri, Kongo Central and the four ex-Katanga provinces. Our teams vaccinated over 679,500 children and treated some 48,000 in our facilities.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease but the failure to cover all health zones with routine vaccination and the delay in organising supplementary campaigns are among the reasons this outbreak is so big. In DRC, factors contributing to low coverage include the lack of vaccines, vaccinators and access to healthcare facilities, as well as logistical difficulties such as transport. The outbreak occurred at the same time as the Ebola epidemic, which complicated the response.
Democratic Republic of Congo
A doctor listens to a patient at one of the health centres in Beni, North Kivu where MSF provides medical staff support and treatment, and donates medical supplies. Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2019.
Assisting Displaced People
Longstanding intercommunal violence in Ituri flared up again in Djugu and Mahagi territories, displacing over a million people. At the end of the year, around 200,000 people were sheltered in some 80 makeshift sites, where the living conditions were extremely poor. Our teams provided medical care and distributed water, mosquito nets and relief items at around 30 sites. Until February, we continued supporting health facilities in Mai-Ndombe, following two days of intercommunity violence in December 2018, during which there were many casualties.
We treated injuries and burns, ran mobile clinics and distributed relief items to around 2,850 displaced households. In North Kivu, we assisted displaced people in four camps through mobile clinics and water, hygiene and sanitation activities. In Kasai Central, we ran mobile clinics and health promotion activities to assist Congolese people pushed out of neighboring Angola.
Comprehensive Care in the Kivu Provinces
In the Kivu provinces, which have been plagued by conflict for many years, MSF has maintained some long-term projects that ensure continuity of care, while also responding to epidemics, mass displacement and other emergencies. In North Kivu, our teams operate in Goma, Mweso, Walikale, Masisi, Rutshuru, Bambu and Kibirizi health zones to support the delivery of general and specialist healthcare in hospitals, health centres and posts, and through mobile clinics and community-based outreach activities. Our services include emergency and intensive care, surgery, referrals, neonatal, paediatric and maternal healthcare, mental health support, HIV and TB programmes, vaccinations, nutrition and treatment for sexual and gender-based violence.
In South Kivu, we support hospitals and health centres in Baraka and, Mulungu, Kalehe and Kimbi-Lulenge health zones, offering treatment for malnutrition, HIV, TB and other infectious diseases, mental health support, and maternal and reproductive healthcare. In Baraka and Kimbi we work closely with communities to respond to the three main illnesses affecting the population; malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections. In 2019, we started constructing a new hospital in Baraka and upgraded Kusisa and Tushunguti hospitals by installing a solar energy system.